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WASHINGTON — Three years after trying to extort Ukraine using $391 million in military aid as leverage and two years after being indicted for it, former President Donald Trump said Monday that Russian aggression against the country would never have happened under his watch. .

“What is happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump Administration. Not even a chance!” he said in a statement issued by his political committee.

The statement made no reference to the scandal that led to the first of two Trump impeachments, in which he delayed the delivery of US military aid while demanding that Ukraine’s new president announce an investigation into Joe Biden, then the primary candidate. Democrats that Trump feared the most as a candidate. challenger 2020. Military hardware was launched when the scheme was made public.

In addition to using US aid meant to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine for his own gain, Trump made it a practice during his presidency to side with Russia in the dispute between the two nations. For several years, he pressured other leaders of the G-7 group of major economic powers to readmit Russia, even though it had been expelled due to its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

At the G-7 summit in 2018, Trump told his counterparts that Crimea should belong to Russia because the people there spoke Russian, repeating the comments he had made as a presidential candidate. “But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were,” he told ABC News in 2016.

In 2019, during a press conference after the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, France, Trump rationalized Russia’s insistence on holding Crimea by saying that it had built a military base there.

“That’s where they do their submarine work and that’s where big powerful submarines dock, but not as powerful as ours and not as big as ours, but they have their submarines,” he said, blaming his predecessor, the Democrat. . President Barack Obama, for having been “misled” by Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and take the region by force.

Donald Trump, pictured with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, delayed the delivery of US military aid to Ukraine while demanding that Zelensky announce an investigation into Trump’s presidential rival Joe Biden.

SAUL LOEB / AFP via Getty Images

While the US government as a whole tried to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, much of that was due to bipartisan majorities in Congress or career staff in executive branch agencies enacting sanctions. .

Other actions were largely symbolic. While the United States supplied Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles, for example, they were provided on the condition that not be deployed in areas where they could actually have been used against pro-Russian forces.

Russian ruler Vladimir Putin, whom Trump repeatedly praised both before and after taking office, has amassed more than 100,000 troops along his border with Ukraine. Biden, now US president, warned Putin that another invasion would have dire consequences, including tough new economic sanctions. It has also been considering redeploying thousands of US troops to Eastern Europe.

In 2016, Trump accepted Putin’s help in winning the US presidency using documents that Russian spies stole from the Democratic Party and the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that US intelligence officials did not. he had been informed that Russian spies had stolen them.

Four years later, despite losing the 2020 election by 7 million popular votes and 306-232 in the Electoral College, Trump became the first US president in more than two centuries to refuse to surrender power peacefully. . His inciting attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, his last attempt to stay in office, killed five, including a police officer, injured 140 other officers and was followed by four police suicides. It resulted in his second impeachment trial just a week before he left office.

The former National Security Council staffer who testified against Trump during his first impeachment trial said Monday that Trump’s goading into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol likely led to the renewed aggression. of Putin.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a direct result of Trump’s attack on democracy. Without January 6, Putin is likely not preparing to launch the biggest offensive in Europe since World War II,” said Alexander Vindman. “Putin’s sense of American weakness emanates from the hyperpolarization incited by Trump. Trump’s fondness for Putin infected the echo chamber of the far-right media.”

Despite Trump’s two impeachments and his literal attempt to overthrow American democracy, he remains the dominant figure in the GOP and is outspoken about running for president again in 2024.

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